In an interview octogenarian leader says there is no point In Hurriyat unity this time; admits political difference with his parent organisation, the Jamaat-e-Islami.
Q. Your assessment about present political situation in Kashmir?
A. The present situation is open and clear before everyone. Here we have an army and police rule. And so far as the so called administration is concerned, its role is also wide open. The situation in Kashmir is so dismal that even judiciary is also not able to deliver justice to people. In such a situation, you can well define that the majority of our population is directly facing the state terrorism. I dont have even an iota of doubt when I say we are facing state terrorism. The majority here is continuously resisting such a situation since last 66 years. And in November 1947, since the massacre of Muslims in Jammu, we are continuously carrying forward this struggle against Indian forcible occupation of our land. Some six lac people have sacrificed their lives during this struggle, and over 600 new graveyards came into existence during this struggle, thousands have been incapacitated, rapes and molestations have taken place and huge damages to properties have been caused. Besides these gross human rights violations, seven thousands unknown graves have been identified. This situation is sheer victimization of the people who want to exercise their right to self determination?
Q. In context of the situation you described in detail, what do you think are the achievements of your resistance movement in last 66 years? And at what stage do you find this movement right now?
A. In such a situation, a common man should realize that you are fighting against a power which is arrogant, and you dont have any means and resources, no arms and no army. I will say without mincing words that in such a situation, sustaining this movement, presenting the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir to the world and keeping this movement alive is a big contribution from a victimized nation. So far our achievements are concerned; let me tell you that the achievements cannot be counted in isolation. For counting achievements, you will have to see the might of the country against which we are fighting. You will have to take many things into consideration like how humane is the power you are fighting with? Its commitment to justice delivery, and how willing it is to respect the sentiments of people? How sincere this power is in its claims of democracy and freedom also merits a consideration. In view of all these aspects, we believe India is suffering from arrogance of power. It is why they dont take any notice of our sacrifices, protests and strikes. India is always trying to legitimize its forcible occupation in Jammu and Kashmir. We are caught in a battle with an enemy who doesnt believe in justice, has no respect for sacrifices and human values.
Q. Times have changed so has the world order. According to your opinion India seems not showing any flexibility keeping in view its increasing military and economic strength. In such a situation when this fight is between two unequal parties in terms of power and resources, as you said, dont you think there is a need that you should change your political strategy for achieving what you think can be achieved through your resistance movement?
A. The way you described Indias might, being a big country, with huge population, having nuclear weapons, and at a global level being the biggest purchaser of arms from USA, Russia, China, Israel is true. Indeed, a big country strategically and in terms of its foreign policies it has the ability to make its point at everywhere. It is also true that global powers have failed people of Kashmir in their commitment towards justice and fair play and there is also no hope of justice delivery given the current world order. Whatever, you said, is based on truth but in such a situation we are left with two options only. First option is either we surrender before the Indian might and accept its illegal occupation in Jammu and Kashmir. Second option is that we should think that our struggle is based on truth and historical facts and we should continue it, till its logical conclusion. At the time of partition, Jammu and Kashmir was to become a part of Pakistan as it met all the topographical, cultural and religious criterions with Pakistani dominion. But due to a deep rooted conspiracy Jammu and Kashmir which was independent but under Dogra rule was handed over to India. Indian National Congress, British, Hari Singh, and a Kashmiri leader were part of that conspiracy. The Kashmiri leaders role in that conspiracy caused tremendous sufferings and still haunts our people. This conspiracy facilitated landing of Indian army and since then they are causing grave human rights violations in Kashmir. Our demand to India is that Kashmiri should be allowed to decide their future by exercising right to self determination. India announced on November 12, 1947 that it will hold plebiscite in Kashmir and January 1948 it took Kashmir issue to UN. At UN, India said Kashmir is a disputed territory. This is the basis of our struggle. The resolutions passed by the UN is a poof that Kashmir is a dispute which is yet to be resolved. And above all since 1947, people have never accepted the Indian occupation otherwise they would have never offered huge sacrifices against armys occupation.
Q. You said the UN and other global powers are not playing their role and come under the influence of powerful countries, then what about the relevance of resolutions passed by United Nations on Kashmir? Are these resolutions still relevant and do you see any possibility in future that these resolutions will be implemented on ground?
A. See these resolutions are a basis of our movement at local as well as at international level and these resolutions cannot be rejected. These resolutions provide us a basis for our struggle and we should remain steadfast till these resolutions are implemented on ground.
Q. Keeping in view the huge human losses Kashmir has suffered during the ongoing movement, are you still convinced that gun/violence is still relevant and is a solution for the resolution of Kashmir issue?
A. One cannot impose restrictions or put limitations on the people in a slave nation. When India was fighting against British rule, on one side late Gandhi propagated peaceful struggle and on the second, there was one Bhagat Singh who used violent means to achieve the freedom. And India accepts Bhagat Singh as a martyr. Another leader Subash Chander Bose formed an independent army against British rule. He went to Germany and other countries to seek their help. And gun was also a factor which incremented and supplemented Indias freedom movement. So, any nation which is under forcible occupation, suppression and oppression; you cannot put limits on them. Gun is also an option before our people and we cant put limits on them.
Q. Some people say that you are against dialogue process ad you want to be portrayed as hawkish and a hardliner who does not believe in talks. People substantiate it saying that you put conditions before entering into a dialogue process; like Kashmir should be accepted as a disputed territory or the dialogue should be meaningful, etc .Dont you believe in dialogue?
A. I am not against dialogue. Dialogue is a process and a way out to resolve issues. But dialogues have been taking place since March 1952 between India and Pakistan and Delhi-Srinagar. But as far as the resolution of Kashmir issue is concerned, not a single meaningful step was taken after these dialogues concluded. Still dialogues continued and as per an estimate talks and conferences have taken place over 150 times and there has been no concrete result or outcome of such dialogues. Logic and wisdom demands that the dialogue process itself should be reviewed to see why these talks and deliberations have failed to resolve Kashmir dispute. Should we not ponder over it? I personally think that dialogues have failed because of Indias stubborn attitude. India says it will start dialogue on Kashmir and on the other hand it says Kashmir is its integral part. In such a situation how can you expect a dialogue process will be result oriented?
Q. If tomorrow you are invited for talks with a plea that the dialogue process will be meaningful and result oriented, will you accept that offer?
A. Why not. But as I said to make the dialogue meaningful, India should first accept Kashmir as a disputed territory. Otherwise, there will be no fruitful negotiations and I dont want to join dialogue process for the sake of dialogue.
Q. If India accepts Kashmir as a dispute but only between India and Pakistan, will you agree that proposition?
A. No, not at all. Kashmir is not a border dispute between India and Pakistan. It is the matter of right to self determination of 130,00,000 people. And if India and Pakistan reach to some agreement which is does not commensurate to our sacrifices and political aspirations, we will never accept that solution.
Q. When you say Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory do you take political aspirations of Jammu and Ladakh into consideration? Do you think people in Jammu and Ladakh will accept any solution which is Kashmir centric?
A. See, if there is referendum and people are allowed to exercise their right to self determination; democratic norms demand that a majority decision will prevail. India which is claiming to be a big democracy in the world will have to accept the majority decision. Till then different political aspirations are immaterial for us. If India is sure that Jammu and Ladakh are with it, why is it afraid to hold plebiscite in Kashmir? You cannot ignore Muslim populations in Jammu and Ladkah regions. I have always, said that even if people chose to remain with India after they exercise their right to self determination, we will accept that solution even if it will not be liked by us.
Q. Pakistan recently said that it has some issues with India and the same will be resolved through bilateral talks. What is your opinion about it?
A. It (Pakistan) may have some issues with India but pertaining to trade and visa, not Kashmir dispute. Kashmir dispute is not a bilateral issue and Kashmiris are a principle party to that dispute.
Q. Do you think Pakistan has not changed its diplomatic and political stand on Kashmir issue?
A. Sofar its statements are concerned, Pakistan is politically, diplomatically and morally supporting Kashmir. And it also supports our movement for right to self determination.
Q. At Sopore, you said stone pelting has no justification. What is you final opinion about stone pelting?
A. It is in context of my Sopore rally that I said that such stone pelting incidents have no justification. Most often you will see that stone pelting is a reaction to use of brute force by police and others paramilitary forces. One can stop that reaction only when police and CRPF change its attitude by not becoming a hurdle in peaceful demonstrations. Stone pelting will automatically come to an end. Till then it is justified even under religion. When there is no reason for stone pelting and suddenly you witness some scenes, it means some agencies are behind such incidents. There was no resistance from police or CRPF in my Sopore rally. But suddenly stone pelting started that too after culmination of our public meeting. My remarks on stone pelting in Sopore cannot be generalized. You see since 2008, we have witnessed peaceful demonstration in Kashmir but people are still being killed. There were killings in 2008, 2009 and 2010. There was curfew for 100 days. Strike was for 117 days. I was under house arrest for 141 days. 128 people were killed in 2010 without any justification. Nobody had attacked police with gun, grenade or baton but still people got killed at the hands of police and other forces. And if in such a situation you witness a stone pelting incident, you cannot put limits on people as I already said. Stone pelting is also an option available with the hapless people of Kashmir to express their resentment.
Q. Recently, you took strong notice of the High Court judgment on the usage of pellet gun and pepper gas criticizing the junior lawyers. It is said that you criticized them as the Public Interest Litigation was filed by Hurriyat Conference (M). Is it true?
A. It was not even in my imagination that who were the lawyers who filed the petition. Whatever I said was based on merit and had nothing to do with those lawyers political affiliation. I had not accused those lawyers of anything. What I said was about the loopholes and non serious approach adopted while framing and arguing that petition.
Q. Will you file any such petition in future?
A. See petitions can be filed where there is an independent judiciary. There is no independent judiciary here. In Jammu and Kashmir judiciary is under pressure. They dont give decisions independently. For example I was under illegal confinement since March 27 this year. We approached the Court. After hectic arguments when government advocate was not able to submit his argument, the court reserved its decision for some four months. You should know that our youth from Lal Bazar were detained for 14 years and after such a long period of their life passed in jail, the court acquitted them as innocents. Two of our youth who were in Jodhpur jail were acquitted as innocents after they had passed 17 years in jail. What justice delivery can you expect from such a judiciary? Our judiciary is biased. For example in Delhi rape case, the court pronounced its verdict in just nine months but no notice was taken in our Kunan Poshpora incident in which it has been said 53 women were raped in the incident in 1992. Similarly there are hundreds of rape incidents in Kashmir but no sentences were pronounced ever.
Q. You had penned down your will identifying your successor? Have you?
A. I had mentioned some names way back in a meeting at Islamabad. But later I issued a statement saying that identification of leaders at Islamabad was not based on our organizational bylaws. We have a set organizational constitution which follows an electoral process. So there will be no nomination but there will be proper elections and successor will be an elected one.
Q. There are rumors about differences between you and Jamat-e-Islami? Is it true?
A. There are no serious differences between us. But there are differences on our policies on Kashmir issue. We give priority to resolution of Kashmir issue but Jamat thinks it is one of the other issues and gives priority to establish an Islamic system. We say that Kashmirs freedom is not separate from our religion. Nevertheless, Jamat is doing a commendable job which cannot be ignored.
Q. If tomorrow Jamat participates in elections, will you resist?
A. If they do anything which does not suit our struggle and is against its basic principles, we will identify that move and resist that whole heartedly.
Q. It is said that your poll boycotts calls have no relevance or impact on ground. People substantiate this statement saying that there was a record number of polling in Panchayat elections even though you had called for a complete boycott. Your opinion?
A. It is my responsibility to make my people aware that participation in elections is causing tremendous harm to our movement. Elections are being wrongly portrayed by India at an international level. The separatist leadership, I believe has this duty to resist and to raise its voice against exploitation. People should not participate in elections to legitimize the Indian occupation in Kashmir. Our vote legitimizes all political parties who are pro occupation in Jammu and Kashmir. Pro occupation political parties are collaborators in gross human rights violations being inflicted on Kashmiri people as they head the unified command. On the one hand they kill our people, torture our youth, rape and molest our women and on the other they seek vote from us. In this situation, should we participate in polls?
Q. Since the political mainstream comes through electoral process, why in your opinion they should not be taken on board in the resolution process aimed at settlement of Kashmir issue?
A. When there will be a dialogue process; all pro-occupation political parties will be represented by India. So they dont need to participate in the dialogue process.
Q. Your opinion about US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan and its impact in Kashmir.
A. US will never allow stability in Afghanistan like in Iraq. So how can Afghanis have time to support us physically here? They should not come here with gun and fight for us. It will never happen and it is not possible. If they can support us morally and diplomatically after they stabilize their own country that will be a big contribution from their side.
Q. What do you see is future of your struggle? Where is your resistance movement heading towards?
A. Our struggle will continue till Indian occupation comes to an end here. Because this struggle has transferred to our next generation and they will continue to resist the Indian occupation and take this struggle to its logical conclusion. This I assure you.
Q. People believe that there has always been leadership crisis in Kashmir. How do you see it?
A. Today there is no leadership crisis. Everybody is working on his own agenda. We have decided not to confront our pro freedom leadership. But as and when we see any deviation, we will pinpoint that.
Q. If the goal is same, why is the pro freedom camp fragmented?
A. The pro freedom leadership whether united or divided is not a hurdle in resolution of Kashmir issue. For 10 long years we (APHC) were united but India never paid any heed to our concern and demand. No meaningful talks were initiated during that period. In present situation we have different approaches and policies are also different. Some talked to India may be twice but without any results. You also witnessed some diversion in policies of some leaders. In such a situation, I dont think merger with each other will benefit this movement in anyway. Yes the movement will be benefitted if we stick to our respective stands and continue to struggle as per our policies and approach.
Q. Shabir Ahmad Shah had started a campaign to unite the divided Hurriyat leadership. Is he in touch with you?
A. No. He is not in touch with us. –KNS
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.